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    Content by Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson
    The following institutions have funded our research and supported our work:

    From 2013-2015 Mika is a guest professor at the eLab at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee

    From July - December 2013 Hannah was a researcher at the UdK's Design Research Lab

    From 2010-2012 Mika was a guest researcher in the Smart Textiles Design Lab at The Swedish School of Textiles

    From 2009 - 2011 Hannah was a graduate student in the MIT Media Lab's High-Low Tech research group led by Leah Buechley


    In 2009 Hannah and Mika were both research fellows at the Distance Lab


    Between 2003 - 2009 Hannah and Mika were both students at Interface Cultures
    We support the Open Source Hardware movement. All our own designs published on this website are released under the Free Cultural Works definition
    Sensors

    Wimper Switch

    Wimper in German translates to “Eyelash”. This contact switch is made from conducive thread stitched into neoprene to create “lashes” that hover over a band of silverized nylon stretch conductive fabric. Contact between a lash and the band closes the switch.

    In exploring different methods for detecting movement/passing of the tiniest/lightest of creates this is simple contact switch made from strands of super thin conductive thread and a surface of conductive fabric. The thread is stitched into a strip of neoprene, and stretching the neoprene allows you to adjust the spacing and height of the threads. A band of stretch conductive fabric is placed just close enough to the lashes of conductive thread so that there will be no electrical contact unless an animal crawls up onto/over one of the lashes and causes it to move down against the conductive fabric. Analog sensing of this sensor might also allow to detect varying amounts of motion, or size/weight of insects….

    Andrew Quitmeyer wrote up a beautiful tutorial on a larger class of experiments we did building sensors to detect ants. Step 8 of the following Instructable describes the “Wimper Switch”:
    >> http://www.instructables.com/id/Fiber-Optic-Jungle-Insect-Traffic-Taster/

    This sensor was built with the intention of detecting ants crossing over it as they travel up and down the trunk or branch of a tree. A first prototype was built during the Hacking the Wild expedition into the jungle of southern Madagascar. Unfortunately the stainless steel thread we had with was too stiff for the weight of the ants to bend. Since arriving back in Europe I’ve prototyped a version with the much softer silver plated nylon conductive thread 117/17 2ply by Shieldex. But I have not been able to test it with any ants yet because here in Austria the ground is still covered in snow:-)

    Some variations (using stainless steel thread):

    Lashes over conductive fabric band:

    Close-up of some ants crossing but not heavy enough to have effect:

    Loop lashes instead of hair-like lashes:

    Sperate rows of loop lashes that contact each other:

    Some variations (using silver plated nylon conductive thread 117/17 2ply by Shieldex):

    Electronic symbol for an ant-triggered switch:

    (coming soon…)

    INSPIRATION

    Inspiration for this switch/sensor came from observing ants crawling over moss and how the ants were heavy enough to make the moss bend.

    More photos on Flickr

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